Operations Coordinators


Joan Carr, RJE

Operations Co-Coordinator

Joan Carr, RJE, has been active in the field of Jewish education for over thirty-five years. She has taught Hebrew to children and adults, and served as director of Education at Congregation Sha’aray Shalom in Hingham, Massachussetts, then as a regional educator, education specialist, and curriculum consultant for the URJ. In her new role as a curriculum consultant for Behrman House, Joan continues to support and train educators in the use of Mitkadem and CHAI and to guide them in all curricular matters. For the ARJE, Joan has served as a Conference co-chair, an Advocacy co-Team Leader, and a Vice-President. Currently, in addition to being an Operations Co-Coordinator, she co-chairs the Task Force on Installations and serves on the Joint Placement Commission for Educators and the Professional Review and Support Committee.

Debra J. Siroka, RJE

Operations Co-Coordinator

Debra J. Siroka, RJE, is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, WA, and sits on the Faculty Commission for URJ Camp Kalsman. In her over 18 years as a Jewish Educator, she has served in many different roles—as a congregational educator, as an educational consultant, and as a curriculum writer for the American Jewish Archives and the Union for Reform Judaism. For ARJE, Debra has functioned in a variety of roles—as board member, as co-team leader for Communications, and as co-team leader for Professional Learning. She also co-chaired the Symposium on Jewish Identity in 2009.

Membership Involvement Coordinators


Vanessa Ehrlich, RJE

Membership Involvement Co-Coordinator

Vanessa Ehrlich, RJE, brings decades of experience and an extraordinary passion for Jewish education to Lakeside Congregation and our ARJE board. Vanessa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Jewish Education from Spertus College, and continues her own educational quest by attending and planning ongoing professional growth courses for Chicago-area teachers and principals. Every summer since 1989 Vanessa has proudly served as faculty member at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, and (of course) is an active board member of ARJE.

Vanessa has served on the ARJE Board, and has been the co-chair of the Operations Committee. She is also the director and star of the youtube sensation, “Between 2 Doors“, so answer her call when you hear from her — she might want you to be the next star of her viral video sensation!

Lori Daitch

Membership Involvement Co-Coordinator

Lori has been involved in the field of Jewish education for the past twenty five years as a teacher and religious school director. In addition Lori spent many years working with teens as a youth director and taught in early childhood programs. Lori has served on staff at URJ Camp Swig and faculty of URJ Camp Newman. She is also involved in the Los Angeles BJE Principals Council. Lori has been active in the ARJE for the past twelve years, having most recently served as the co-chair of Operations. She was recently awarded the ARJE national honor of Distinguished Educator.

Operations Team Leaders


Cory Hermann

Team Leader, Advocacy

Cory Sue Hermann, MSW, has worked in Jewish Education for over 20 years. She spent 10 years as the Director of Congregational Education at Temple Shalom in Succasunna, NJ before moving recently to Baltimore, MD with her family. During the summer Cory works as the Machon Director at URJ Crane Lake Camp, in West Stockbridge, MA, and teaches music and song leads during the year.

Sandra Robbins, RJE

Team Leader, Advocacy

Sandy Robbins, RJE, is the Director of Education at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, in Deerfield, Illinois.She has been in the field of Jewish Education for over 30 years, 30 of them at BJBE. Sandy received her BA at the University of Illinois in secondary English education, and her MSJS at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Sandy has been an active member of the ARJE Operations Team for several years, and has served on the ARJE Board as well. She co-chaired the Washington DC Kallah and served on the Ethics Task Force.

Sandy is a past president of CATE – the Chicago Association of Temple Educators. She twice co-chaired the Midwest CAJE Experience and continues to be an active voice for Reform Jewish education in the Chicago area. Sandy is married and has three children, four grandchildren.

Rachel Margolis, RJE

Team Leader, Communications

Rachel Margolis, RJE, is an independent Jewish education consultant who helps synagogues and agencies around the country with educational change — from imagining the possibilities through curriculum/program development and teacher training. Rachel has a joint masters in Jewish education and Jewish communal service from Hebrew Union College, and has served as the Director of Education at University Synagogue in Los Angeles, and the Executive Director of Community Midrasha, the community Hebrew high school in Durham-Chapel Hill, NC. In her time at Torah Aura, she wrote/edited Parashah: Experiencing the Weekly Torah Portion. Rachel lives in the northern Chicago suburbs with her husband, Rabbi Ari Margolis, and daughters Laila and Adaya.

Ira J. Wise, RJE

Team Leader, Communications

Ira J. Wise, RJE, has served as Temple Educator at Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, CT since 1995. He has worked as a mentor to other educators through the Leadership Institute, the HUC-JIR Alumni Association and Beit T’shuvah’s Elaine Breslow Immersion Institute. Ira consults with colleagues and congregations on a variety of educational issues and proudly serves as a faculty member at URJ Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, MA. He is the author of several textbooks and articles and his blog on Jewish education is Welcome to the Next Level. He earned a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR. He lives in Fairfield Connecticut with his wife Audrey and sons Ethan and Harper.

Rabbi Joe Eiduson, RJE

Team Leader, Finance

Rabbi Joe Eiduson, RJE, has served as the Rabbi-Educator at Congregation B’nai Shalom since 2007. Rabbi Joe grew up in Buffalo and is a graduate of The University of Michigan (Residential College), holds a Master of Hebrew Letters and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College and a Masters in Educational Administration from Xavier University. An alumnus of the URJ Joseph Eisner and Goldman Union Camps, Rabbi Joe attributes much of his Jewish identity and rabbinic calling to his summers spent at Reform Jewish summer camps. Rabbi Joe has worked in the field of Jewish education for over twenty-five years. Joe has served on the boards of PARDES, RAVSAK, Planned Parenthood, Big Brothers and has taught numerous workshops in the field of Jewish education. He and his wife, Rabbi Lisa Eiduson, have found their greatest joy and fulfillment in raising their two children, Rosie and Carly, and their two Labrador retrievers, Maggie and Mason.

Kathy Schwartz, RJE

Vice-President for Finance / Team Leader, Finance

Katherine Schwartz, RJE, has served as the Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder, CO since 1997. Prior to serving Har HaShem, she was the Educator at Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee. She is the author of two URJ Press teachers’ guides: Sex in the Texts and Atlas of Great Jewish Communities. She serves as the faith representative on the state-mandated Early Childhood Council of Boulder County Advisory Committee. Kathy serves as a Clinical Faculty Mentor to students enrolled in HUC-JIR’s Executive Masters in Jewish Education program. She is pursuing a doctorate in Jewish education at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Davidson School of Graduate Education. When not doing homework or ARJE work, she enjoys baking challenges and being out on the trails in Colorado with her husband, Andy and two children Daniel and Gavi.

Gavin Hirsch

Team Leader, Member Relations

Gavin Hirsch has a Masters in Religious Education from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City where he also served as the student president of the NY School of Education and a student ambassador. Gavin currently serves as the Director of Youth Engagement at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey where his portfolio includes work with post-bar/bat mitzvah students and the creation of a family track for religious school families.

Barb Shimansky

Team Leader, Member Relations

Barb Shimansky has served as the Director of Youth Education at Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, WI since July, 2012. Barb has extensive experience in youth education at both the elementary and secondary levels, previously teaching and directing youth programs at congregations in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. She loves spending time at camp in the summer, and has served as a faculty member of the URJ Kutz Camp and Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI). Barb has facilitated workshops on topics such as informal education and junior youth programming at both regional and North American URJ gatherings. Barb is a proud Michigan State Spartan (Go Green!), and she earned her MSW from Wayne State University in 2002. She worked full-time as a social worker for eight years with a focus on children in school, foster care, and juvenile justice settings. Barb is currently a student in the Executive Masters program at HUC-JIR, and will graduate with her MARE in May, 2016. She lives in Deerfield, IL with her husband and their three children.

Deborah Bram, RJE

Team Leader, Professional Learning

Debbie Bram, RJE is the Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Congregation Shaare Emeth in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her MA in Religious Education from HUC-JIR in 2013 and a MSW from Loyola University of Chicago in 1980. Prior to moving to St. Louis five years ago, Debbie was the Director of Lifelong Learning at Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Cleveland, Ohio. Currently Debbie’s work at Congregation Shaare Emeth includes social justice issues, engaging seniors and baby boomers and creating a robust adult learning program. Debbie is the widow of Rabbi Eric J Bram z”l and the proud Emah of Jessica Bram (Rhea Hirsch 2015) and Daniel Bram (Washington University of St. Louis 2015).

Deborah Massarano, RJE

Team Leader, Professional Learning

Debbie Massarano, RJE, is the Director of Livnot Chai – the pluralistic Jewish community teen learning program in Seattle. Livnot Chai is open to all 8th – 12th graders and provides diverse opportunities to engage with the Jewish community, Jewish learning, and Social justice. Debbie served as a Regional Educator for the Union for Reform Judaism. During those seven years, she consulted with more than 150 congregations on their educational programming. Debbie earned a Master of Arts in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Over the last 6 years, Debbie has served as a Director of Lifelong Learning at congregations in Dallas and Omaha, Nebraska. During that time she worked closely with the congregational youth workers to create a seamless relationship between Jewish learning and youth connections. She is very excited to deepen her work with Jewish and focus on creating meaning, vibrant relationships for Seattle Jewish teens.